Police, army commanders held over dead suspect

Police spokesperson Fred Enanga

Six security personnel from the Police and the army are under probe over torturing a suspect to death while in their custody in Kawempe, Kampala. The deceased is a Police officer, Gideon Mbirire, 26, who was arrested on Thursday last week over allegedly hiring out a gun to robbers.

Mbirire was attached to Kabulengwa Police post in Nansana Municipality, Wakiso district. He was apprehended following the arrest of a suspected robber, identified as Isma Ssemwogerere, a resident of Bwaise in Kawempe division.

Yesterday, Police spokesperson Fred Enanga said so far, three commanders, two policemen and an army officer had been arrested, while two officers attached to the Internal Security Organisation (ISO) are on the run.

Those arrested include the officer in charge of Bwaise Police post, Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP) Yakoub Wakasada and his criminal investigations chief, only identified as Egwa. According to Enanga, the army officer arrested is Ifad Kawaga, while the ISO operatives on the run have been identified as Parish ISO chief (PISO) in Bwaise 111, Mohammad Kimbugwe and Lt. Swaleh Begumisa, who is alleged to have led the operation to arrest Mbirire. Others are the Kawempe PISO, whose identity was not disclosed and a one Lt. Col. Lutalo.

How the Suspect Died

While addressing a press conference yesterday at the Police headquarters in Naguru, a city suburb, Enanga explained how Mbirire died. He said the suspects in question arrested Mbirire and tortured him while in illegal detention (private ofice), which caused his health to deteriorate.

“On noticing the deteriorating state of their victim, the oficers rushed him to Kawempe Police Station. While at the station, authorities declined to detain Mbirire and asked the oficers to take their victim to hospital for treatment,”

Enanga said.

“Mbirire died on the way to hospital. Disturbingly, in a move seemed to conceal the cause of death, the officers then booked Mbirire at the city mortuary as a victim of mob justice,” he said. “The act of gun violence is bad and we condemn it, but to torture a suspect, who would have given you information about a gang dealing in fire arms/hiring to criminals, is grave,” Enanga added.

How it happened?

According to the Police, Ssemwogerere’s wife, identified as Nagudi, reported to the Police in Bwaise that her husband had threatened to shoot her with an AK 47 rifle, accusing her of refusing to conceive and bear for him another child. Nagudi reportedly told the Police that Ssemwogerere had had a gun for a long time and that he would go out at night with it. She said he keept it under their mattress whenever he returned.

The Police at Kabaawo Police post in Bwaise arrested Ssemwogerere and searched his house, before taking him to Kawempe Police station. However, the gun was not found in the house. But, while in detention, the army and the office of the Kawempe Division Internal Security Organisation (DISO) got wind of Ssemwogerere’s case.

He was interrogated and he informed the Police that he would occasionally hire a gun from Mbirire and that sometimes they would move together at night to carry out robberies. In his statement, Ssemwogerere said the most recent robbery was meted out on a chicken seller at Bwaise, who they put at gunpoint and robbed him of sh600,000 at night and shared the money with Mbirire.

“But on Monday, last week at around 3:00am, I put it (the gun) in a bag and took it back to Mbirire,”

Ssemwogerere said, adding that they would mostly steal cows from Wakiso district. Soldiers led by Begumisa, then led Ssemwogerere to Mbirire’s work station at Kabulengwa. “We introduced ourselves to the officer in charge of the station, called Sauya Nassolo and also briefed her. She then called all the Police officers attached to her post to a parade.

When Mbirire showed up, Ssemwogerere identified him as the policeman from whom he would usually hire the gun,” an operative said. Although he denied hiring out the gun to Ssemwogerere, Mbirire was disarmed and arrested. However, when officers checked the gun he was holding, it only had four bullets, instead of 30. He was then taken to an undisclosed facility, where he was allegedly tortured to death.

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Patrick Luwagga is the editorial director of cross-platform content for UGANDANZ. He works across the newsroom and with business partners to drive and develop ambitious editorial projects that include digital journalism, video, data research, polling, live events, and thought-leadership series that are supported by outside underwriting. As executive director, he is responsible for the creation of Political news section, prior to joining UGANDANZ, Patrick was the chief editor for the national weekly news magazine of Kasese Times. In that role, he covered several presidential elections, wrote and produced two television documentaries, and was a regular commentator on television and radio news programs. Patrick was born in Masaka and grew up in Kasese. He earned a bachelor’s degree in Journalism from Makerere University where he was a Knight Foundation journalism fellow.